A Year At The Valley | Fan Adviser Lucy Bishop

Last April, lifelong Addick Lucy Bishop was appointed to the voluntary post of Fan Adviser.

She spoke to Valley Review to go through her first year in the role.

How much have you enjoyed your first year in the role?

The first year has been a whirlwind; it feels like we’ve achieved a lot and yet there is so much work to get through.  

It might sound a bit cheesy, but I’ve loved meeting so many new people. It’s only been a year, but I can honestly say I’ve made some friends for life, and I know that’s true for so many other fans. Football really does bring us together, and Charlton is a great example of that.  

I’ve been fortunate to work with people who give so much of their time to the club purely because they love it so much, particularly the Supporters’ Trust and the Charlton Live crew. Over the coming year, I’m hoping to spend some time with the Museum volunteers, who do a great job telling the Charlton story.   

This year, I’ve re-established the Fans’ Forum and set up the International Fans’ Forum, which has been a great way to open up some formal communication channels between supporters and the ownership.  

Work is ongoing on some big initiatives off the pitch, including the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and working with the #HerGameToo campaign.  

There are some little things that make me smile too – I’ve seen seats given a clean up and their numbers replaced, and the last time I was at the Valley I saw stickers up around the ground giving a number and location for fans to report any issues. It might not seem like much, but it’s rewarding to look around and think ‘I made that happen’. 

You had the chance to interview Thomas Sandgaard, how did you find that?

After years of owners that avoided scrutiny and minimal communication, it was refreshing to get the chance to have an open and frank discussion.  

We covered a lot of ground – from league aspirations to stadium ownership, recruitment policy to community work.  

It was new to me and I’m certainly no Paxman, but I was really pleased to get such a wide breadth of questions from fans, all of which I was able to put to Thomas. 

You will interview him again during his current visit to the UK, how can supporters get their questions answered?

I think it’s really important that, as a fanbase, we make the most of these opportunities to hear from the owner, but also hold him to account – that’s one of the reasons I took this role on.  

I’d like to hear from anyone that has a particular question or issue they would like addressed. 

The best way to get in touch is via Twitter on @CAFCFanAdviser or email fanadviser@cafc.co.uk 

You have reestablished the Fans' Forum, how important is that? 

Ensuring there is formal, on-the-record communication from the owner is a priority for me, which is why I spent some time consulting with supporters on the format of the meetings before re-establishing the Fans’ Forum. 

At Charlton, we have a solid network of affiliated supporters’ groups who work extremely hard for their members, so it makes sense to have regular meetings where they can represent thoughts and concerns to the owner and senior management. 

I’ve said all along I’m open to suggestions on Fans’ Forum and I recognise that we have had some teething problems, specifically on the delay between the meetings taking place and the notes going online. I’ve worked with the club on streamlining this process and I’m confident that when the Forum meets this week, we’ll see the notes published soon after.  

I’d like to emphasise that this isn’t the only way fans for fans to get their voices heard though. We have the second Q&A of the season coming up (and if people like these, I’m happy to suggest making them more regular) plus the Supporters’ Trust do regular Q&A sessions with Thomas and senior management that are open to all.  

You were also part of the initial Fill The Valley working group - why was that important for you to be involved in? 

Put simply nothing beats The Valley when it’s packed out. The atmosphere at the play-off semi-final in 2019 was electric and I’m lucky enough to remember what it was like here during the Premier League years; busy, buzzing and an exciting place to be.  

Of course before that, we had an army of fans who fought long and hard to make sure we even had a ground to call our own. I don’t want the work they did to be for nothing.  

Our stadium is beautiful (I think so, anyway) and our club has a proud history. It’s only right that we celebrate by filling this ground, by making it somewhere that people come to meet, have fun and bond over the trials and tribulations of being a football fan. 

Many people have said to me that the best way to fill the stadium is to play good football. I wholeheartedly agree, but unfortunately that isn’t something I can do! What I can do is suggest to the ownership some other things that make this an attractive place to be. It might be rewards for loyal fans, incentives for new fans, better catering, or something else entirely. The working group is meeting for the second time soon, so I would urge fans with ideas to share them!  

You have established the International Fans Forum - how much have you enjoyed that? 

This has been one of my favourite parts of the work I’ve done so far. I’m in touch with fans from the USA, Dubai, Australia and all over Europe and I can honestly say that each and every one I’ve spoken to is bursting with enthusiasm for the club. 

The International Fans’ Forum has opened my eyes to just how much work goes on behind the scenes at Charlton. A lot of us are lucky to be able to come along on matchdays, or if not, we follow the scores at 3pm on a Saturday. That’s not the case for our supporters hundreds or even thousands of miles away, who instead get up in the middle of the night or crack of dawn to show their support.  

For me, that’s where CharltonTV has really come into its own. Without a doubt, it’s been a great help in growing our fanbase internationally. Not only can fans follow the action, but it comes to them from a professional studio with experienced hosts in Scott and Curbs. I’ve really enjoyed watching that side of things grow and I’m looking forward to meeting some of our international fans in person at the inaugural International Supporters’ Day coming soon. 

How can supporters get in touch with you? 

The easiest way to get in touch is via Twitter - @CAFCFanAdviser - or email or fanadviser@cafc.co.uk I have heard from a couple of people to say their emails haven’t had a response; if that’s the case I’d firstly like to apologise and ask them to re-send their email. There were a few instances of my email address being misspelt, therefore emails weren’t reaching me, so please do double-check it, resend and I’ll come back to you.  

Read Time: 6 mins